SFA Outlasts Cowgirls
Jan. 30, 2010
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - The Stephen F. Austin Ladyjack basketball team never trailed Saturday night knocking off McNeese State, 75-59, in the William R. Johnson Coliseum. The SFA win, along with a Northwestern State loss propelled the Ladyjacks back into the top spot of the Southland Conference East Division standings. The Ladyjacks are now 10-8 on the season, and 5-2 in SLC play.
"I was happy with our intensity tonight," said head coach Lee Ann Riley. "We got in some tough spots but our kids never quit fighting, and that is what you look for as a coach. We knew it was going to be tough without Jordan (Ford) in the lineup. I was real pleased how the girls came out and battled from the opening tip to the final buzzer.
"I was also really pleased with Brittany Hardy. She came in early and played really well. She only scored two points, but she gave me a lot of hustle minutes."
The Ladyjacks opened the game knocking down six of their first 12 shots to take a 10-point advantage, and although SFA would eventually cool off McNeese State was never able to recover. SFA pushed its advantage to as many as 13 points twice in the opening half before McNeese State rallied late in the half to cut the lead to single digits.
Led by Raiyawna Gatlin, who had only one point with just over three minutes remaining in the opening 20 minutes, the Cowgirls closed the half on a 10-1 run to go into the locker room down only four, 29-25. Gatlin closed out the final three minutes scoring eight consecutive points on 4-of-5 shooting to lead McNeese State with nine points. Despite the Cowgirls' rally, and the fact that senior Whitney Cormier and sophomore Tammara Marion were held scoreless in the opening half, SFA still managed a lead at half time.
SFA fans didn't have to wait long in the second half to see Cormier and Marion get in the scorebook. After the Cowgirls cut the lead to two, Cormier drilled a three less than two minutes into the half, followed by one from Marion to extend the SFA lead to six points. SFA knocked down three more triples over the course of the next three minutes of the game to extend their lead back to double digits. McNeese State would get no closer than seven as SFA would eventually push its lead to as many as 20 points.
The Ladyjacks were held to a 21-of-66 (.318) performance, but outrebounded McNeese State and forced them into 29 turnovers. The Ladyjacks took advantage of the miscues converting them into 33 points. The Cowgirls finished the game 20-of-54 (.370) from the floor. SFA knocked down seven of their 11 triples in the second half, which marks the third time this season that SFA has recorded 11 threes in a game. The 11 three-pointers tie an SFA single-game record.
SFA had four players in double figures led by Cormier's 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting. She needs only nine more points to become the 24th Ladyjack in school history to score 1,000 points in her career. Marion, and junior Toni Davis each added 13 points.
The Cowgirls were led by Kiara Johnson's 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Gatlin added 15 points.
SFA returns to action Wednesday when they travel to Thibodaux, La., to take on Nicholls. The game against the Colonels is slated to begin at 6:30 p.m., from Stopher Gym.